Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "City of Chicago Landmark Designation Reports"

See other formats



Pulaski Park Fieldhouse 

1419 West Blackhawk Street 

Preliminary Landmark recommendation approved by 
the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, February 6, 2003 

Richard M. Daley, Mayor 

Department of Planning and Development 
Alicia Mazur Berg, Commissioner 

J I 


* . H-LiCifbi-L.* 




* . PDIQUjIC. St 

1 r 

PliLAfiKI FWflK 

Cover: The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse and its distinctive tower and first-floor auditorium. 
Above: The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is located in the West Town community area on 
Chicago's Northwest Side. 

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks, whose nine members are appointed by the Mayor, was 
established in 1968 by city ordinance. The Commission is responsible for recommending to the City 
Council which individual buildings, sites, objects, or districts should be designated as Chicago Land- 
marks, which protects them by law. 

The landmark designation process begins with a staff study and a preliminary summary of 
information related to the potential designation criteria. The next step is a preliminary vote by the 
landmarks commission as to whether the proposed landmark is worthy of consideration. This vote not 
only initiates the formal designation process, but it places the review of city permits for the property under 
the jurisdiction of the Commission until a final landmark recommendation is acted on by the City Council. 

This Landmark Designation Report is subject to possible revision and amendment during the 
designation process. Only language contained within the designation ordinance adopted by the City 
Council should be regarded as final. 

Preliminary Summary of Information 

Submitted to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in February 2003 

Pulaski Park Fieldhouse 

1419 W. Blackhawk St. 

Built: 1912-14 

Architect: William Carbys Zimmerman 

Chicago's parks constitute one of the city's most important historic resources with their abun- 
dance of historically and architecturally significant landscapes and buildings. Pulaski Park, 
located on Chicago's Near Northwest Side, contains one of the city's finest fieldhouses, a 
significant building type in the history of the city. The neighborhood fieldhouse exemplifies a 
period in park design and programming — the creation of neighborhood parks and playgrounds 
in working-class neighborhoods early in the twentieth century — that is significant not only to 
Chicago, but to United States history as well. 

The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is also significant for its unusual architectural style. Its picturesque 
appearance, resembling a grandly-scaled Central or Eastern European meeting hall or inn, is 
rare in the context of Chicago, let alone Chicago park architecture. The building is handsomely 
constructed of warm-colored, light brown brick with dark brown wood trim. Its significant 
interior spaces include an unusual and impressively-scaled, barrel-vaulted auditorium with 
lunette windows and a round-arched proscenium ornamented with an allegorical Classical 

The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is the work of William Carbys Zimmerman, a significant architect 
to both the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. Zimmerman's early career, partnered with 
architect John J. Flanders, focused on houses for Chicago's elite designed in a variety of archi- 
tectural styles. In independent practice from 1 898 on, Zimmerman was appointed State Archi- 
tect of Illinois in 1 905, designing a number of significant buildings for state universities, hospitals, 
and other public institutions. In Chicago, starting in 1 907, he was the architect for the West 
Park Commission, for which he designed not only the fieldhouse at Pulaski Park, but buildings in 
five other parks on Chicago's West and Northwest Sides. 

The Development of Neighborhood Parks in Chicago 

From its founding in 1 833 as a small trading village on the edge of the American frontier to the 
1 880s when it became second only to New York among American cities, Chicago amazed both 
its citizens and outside observers with its dynamic growth and commercial vitality — largely due 
to private development and unabashed free-market capitalism. At the same time, however, 
Chicagoans recognized the importance of physical improvements such as public parkland. As 
early as 1 839, a portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline east of Michigan Avenue was dedicated 
to open space, labeled as "public ground, forever to remain vacant of building" on a subdivision 
map, and called for many years "Lake Park." At the same time, the land bounded by Michigan, 
Washington Street, Randolph Street, and Garland Court was set aside as Dearborn Park. 
(Lake Park is now part of Grant Park, while the Chicago Cultural Center is located on the site 
of Dearborn Park.) 

Pulaski Park occupies a square block 
bounded by W. Blackhawk, N. Noble, 
W. Potomac, and N. Cleaver Streets 
on Chicago's Near Northwest Side, 
just west of the Kennedy Expressway. 
The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse (# 1) is 
located on the northern edge of the 
park, facing Blackhawk. 

j i 



■. ELli^Lj-I 



-■ s 




1. PriLt^Liii 5e 


•-.LWKI HU* 


Built between 1912 and 1914, the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is a picturesque combination of 
brickwork, gables, dormers, and a tower. A cast-concrete and wrought-iron fence around 
the park was built at the same time as the Fieldhouse. 

In an effort to encourage sales and to provide a physical amenity for newly platted residential 
neighborhoods, Chicago real estate developers set aside small tracts of land for parks in several 
neighborhoods intended for upper-income houses. The first of these parks, Washington 
Square, was donated to the City in 1 842 by the American Land Company, which was subdivid- 
ing the surrounding Near North Side area. Other parks acquired in the next 30 years by the 
City through gifts of land from developers included Union Park and Vernon Park on Chicago's 
West Side and Ellis Park on the city's South Side. These parks were relatively modest in size 
and intended for strolling and passive recreation by nearby residents. In overall form and use 
they resembled small residential parks or "squares" found both in European cities as well in 
older American cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. 

The value of parks as enhancements to real estate development and civic life continued to be 
recognized in the years after the Civil War. In 1 869 the Illinois state legislature established three 
new governmental agencies to oversee the development and maintenance of new parks in 
Chicago and neighboring suburban townships. The creation of the South Park, West Park, and 
Lincoln Park Commissions brought about the enhancement of the already created Lincoln Park 
on the city's north lakefront and the creation of five additional large parks, connected by land- 
scaped boulevards, on the city's West and South sides. 

These parks — Lincoln, Humboldt, Garfield, Douglas, Washington, and Jackson Parks — were 
designed as large-scale "pastoral" landscapes of picturesque meadows, encircling woodlands, 
curvilinear ponds and meandering bridal paths. They were meant to both encourage nearby real 
estate development and to provide recreational opportunities for people living throughout the 
Chicago area. Their designs were influenced by the naturalistic English landscape tradition of 
the 1 8 th century and the mid- 1 9th-century development of large, park-like cemeteries such as 
Boston's Mount Auburn Cemetery and Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. The two South Park 
Commission's parks, Washington and Jackson, were the creation of Frederick Law Olmstead, 
America's leading 19 th -century landscape architect. Olmstead's earlier designs for New York's 
Central Park (begun in 1 857) and Prospect Park (begun in 1 865) were widely admired and 
were prototypes for Chicago's large-scale parks. 

Situated near handsome middle- and upper-income neighborhoods, Chicago's great 19 th - 
century parks were destinations for Chicago's citizens. Relatively passive recreations such as 
strolling, horseback riding, and carriage rides were popular ways of experiencing the parks. 
Pastoral parks such as these were seen as beneficial to Chicagoans because they served as the 
"lungs" of the city, providing places of natural beauty and relaxation that contrasted sharply with 
the city's rapidly expanding urban streetscapes. As noted by architectural historian Daniel 
Bluestone, Victorian-era Americans believed that parks offered psychological benefits to city 
dwellers through their separation from "artificial" scenes of commerce and contact with nature. 
Parks were also seen as cultivators of culture and democracy in an increasingly capitalistic and 
class-oriented society. 

Unfortunately, Chicago's great pastoral parks were located at some distance from most of the 
city's working-class neighborhoods. By the early 1 900s, social reformers were advocating a 
new kind of park, attuned to what were perceived as the specific needs of members of 

Br _, 

L ' .. SI 

W. 1 

*L J"'!/- i 


■ +fc % J MM 

m- [^ U~^W .g MH^md P* 

H| | 

|i - P -1 



1 i ■ * - 


r ■ pi " ■ 


i *" . ^ta ^i h^"d'" 

^H J^^r'U^ 


»*. r 




-Ci ^^^^B 



Chicago's earliest parks, including 
Dearborn Park (above) and Washington 
Square (left), were established in the 
mid-nineteenth century as small 
"squares" with formal layouts meant for 

In 1869, the Illinois State Legislature 
authorized three park authorities - the 
South Park, West Park, and Lincoln Park 
Commissions - to develop large regional 
parks designed in the English pastoral 
tradition. Washington Park on Chicago's 
South Side (below) is typical of these 
expansive parks with their meadows, 
ponds, and groves of trees. 

In the early 1900s, neighborhood parks such as the West Park Commission's Dvorak Park 
(above) were built in Chicago's working-class neighborhoods. Based on the Progressive 
social thinking of the period, neighborhood parks equipped with fieldhouses, swimming 
pools, and ballfields were meant to provide active recreation, cultural events, and social 
services for the City's largely immigrant poor. Landscape architect Jens Jensen (top right) 
and architect William Carbys Zimmerman (top left) designed the landscapes and buildings for 
almost a dozen neighborhood parks, including Pulsaki Park, during the 1900s and 10s. 

Chicago's poor, largely immigrant working class, for whom the existing large parks were 
inaccessible. Progressives such as architect Dwight Perkins and sociologist Charles Zueblin 
saw the need for small parks within poor neighborhoods, easily available to working-class 
families. They also believed that the emphasis in these neighborhood parks should be on active 
recreation, such as swimming, gymnastics, and ball playing, and supervised play, rather than 
walking and passive recreation. 

Playgrounds — consciously designed spaces for child's play — were an innovation of late- 19th- 
century urban reformers. Settlement house pioneers such as Jane Addams, working and living 
amidst the poverty and squalor of Chicago's working-class neighborhoods, had observed 
children playing in streets and alleys amidst filthy, often dangerous conditions. Combined with 
the widespread use (and abuse) of children as laborers in Chicago factories and workshops, 
child welfare advocates believed that healthy, wholesome environments, including supervised 
play, were essential for the proper social and physical development of children. Without such 
environments, children stood little chance of becoming fruitful citizens. 

In 1 899, the Special Park Commission was established by the City of Chicago to assess the 
city's parks and to make and implement recommendations for improvements in existing parks 
and the creation of new parks. Although subsequent funding prevented the Special Park 
Commission from actively acquiring land and developing parks itself, the Commission's recom- 
mendations, published in 1 904, called for the creation of numerous neighborhood parks 
throughout the city. One of the report's co-authors, landscape architect Jens Jensen, would 
later be the consulting landscape architect to the West Park Commission when Pulaski Park 
was built. 

The first neighborhood parks,beginning the construction of McKinley Park in 1 900, were built 
on Chicago's South and Southwest Sides by the South Park Commission and were hailed for 
their innovative social programs and designs, including the building of "fieldhouses," which 
combined a variety of meeting and activity rooms, including gymnasiums, auditoriums, class- 
rooms, and crafts studios. Loosely based on settlement house buildings, park fieldhouses were 
intended to become the physical focus of recreational activity in neighborhood parks, housing 
activities as varied as drama, English classes, and weight-lifting, and to become defacto commu- 
nity centers in working-class Chicago neighborhoods. 

The West Park Commission, although interested in creating its own neighborhood parks, was 
delayed in its efforts for several years. Saddled with a poorer tax base and corrupt patronage 
practices, the West Park Commission had relatively little available money in the early 1 900s for 
the development of parks. In addition, the neighborhoods with the greatest need for such 
parks, including the Near Northwest Side neighborhood where Pulaski Park would be located, 
were densely populated, with little available open land. Acquiring land for new parks involved 
the condemnation of substantial numbers of buildings and the movement of many residents, a 
time-consuming and expensive process. 

In 1 905, Illinois Governor Charles S. Deneen brought political reform to the West Park Com- 
mission as a first step towards new park development, replacing the Commission board and 


installing Jens Jensen, previously superintendent of Humboldt Park, as general superintendent. 
The Commission soon proposed the creation of new neighborhood parks which would provide 
"relief from the noise and bustle of city life," and began acquiring land. An Act of the Illinois 
State Legislature from 1 909 called for the sale of bonds to pay for several parks, and on 
September 12, 191 1, "Park No. 5," as Pulaski Park was originally called, was authorized by 
the West Park Commission. 

The Design and Construction of Pulaski Park 

Named for General Casimir Pulaski, a Polish-born Revolutionary War hero, Pulaski Park was 
to be located in the densely populated Near Northwest Side neighborhood dominated by St. 
Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church. Located onN. Noble Street, St. Stanislaus 
Kostka was the city's oldest and one of its most important Polish-language Roman Catholic 
churches through the late 1 9 th and early 20 th centuries. Its neighborhood, commonly known to 
neighborhood residents as " Stanislawowo " in honor of the church, was bounded roughly by 
the North Branch of the Chicago River to the east, Ashland Avenue to the west, Division Street 
to the south, and North Avenue to the north. It was considered part of "Polish Downtown," a 
somewhat larger portion of the Near Northwest Side that was arguably the most important 
Polish- American neighborhood in Chicago before World War I. Drawn by work in nearby 
industries along the North Branch and the railroad yards paralleling Kinzie Street to the south, 
many Polish immigrants moved to the neighborhood beginning in the 1 870s. By 1 9 1 0, more 
than 1 00,000 Polish- Americans lived in the neighborhood where Pulaski Park would be cre- 

The site of the new park, bounded by W. Blackhawk St., N. Noble St., W. Potomac Ave., and 
N. Cleaver St., was located a block north and two blocks west of the busy Milwaukee- 
Division- Ashland intersection and contained 90 buildings housing 1 ,200 people. Some buildings 
were demolished while others were moved to sites elsewhere in the neighborhood. A lawsuit 
brought by two owners opposing condemnation of properties was unsuccessful, and construc- 
tion on the Fieldhouse began in December 1912. 

Working together, Jensen (by now the consulting landscape architect for the West Park Com- 
mission) and architect William Carbys Zimmerman planned Pulaski Park as a small, tightly 
organized park with a fieldhouse, poolhouse, and a variety of activity areas, including an out- 
door swimming pool, playground, music court, and ballfield. The park is 3.8 acres and is 
located just west of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. As originally designed, the fieldhouse hugs 
the park's northern edge along Blackhawk, while the poolhouse is located on the park's south- 
ern edge, flanked by the swimming pool and playground. The playground contains a spray pool 
and a cast-concrete-and-wood open-air shelter detailed in the Arts and Crafts style. A music 
court, with a bandstand and flanking pergolas, originally was located just north of the poolhouse 
(all removed in 1 92 1 to allow for expansion of the playground). In the park's center originally 
was an oval, slightly sunken ballfield encircled with a running track (later replaced by a simple 
rectangular grass-covered area). The park is enclosed with a wrought-iron fence supported by 
cast-concrete pillars ornamented with simple indented geometric ornament. 



The neighborhood surrounding Pulaski Park was built on Chicago's Near Northwest Side just 
west of the North Branch of the Chicago River, which was historically lined with factories 
where neighborhood residents found employment. Top: An aerial view of the area in 1936. 
Above: Land being cleared for the construction of Pulaski Park. The twin towers of St. 
Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church, an early and important Polish-national church in 
Chicago and a leading neighborhood institution, can be seen on the opposite side of the 
new park site. 

u-nrr -: -■ 1 1 1 : h. 1 1 u tv.liK rvajmimwKi:- 


Right: The original plan for Pulaski Park by 
Jens Jensen placed the Fieldhouse and 
Poolhouse (with an adjacent Music Court, 
swimming pool, and playground) at opposite 
ends of the park, flanking a central oval 
playing field. Below: A view of the park from 
the south soon after construction; the 
Poolhouse is in the foreground. Above: St. 
Stanislaus Kostka Church overlooks today's 
simplified, rectangular playing field. 


The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is unusual in the context of Chicago architecture for its 
picturesque evocation of a Central or Eastern European meeting hall or country inn. Top: 
The main facade (circa 1914), facing W. Blackhawk St., is dominated by the building's 
sweeping gable roofs and an off-center tower with a copper bellcast roof. Above: The 
south facade (circa 1914), facing the playing field, shelters a courtyard between two half- 
timbered wings encircled by verandas and housing twin gymnasiums. 


Opened in 1 9 1 4, the Fieldhouse was the largest fieldhouse erected by the West Park Commis- 
sion up to that time and was one of the system's most elaborate buildings. Three stories in 
height, it had a U-shaped plan with the main body of the building housing lobbies, an audito- 
rium, and miscellaneous rooms running east- west along Blackhawk. Two wings housing men's 
and women's gymnasiums and other spaces ran north-south along Noble and Cleaver. The 
building wrapped around a south-facing open courtyard, slightly raised above the adjacent 

Clad with warmly-colored light brown brick, the Fieldhouse was built in a picturesque manner 
unusual in the design of 20 th -century Chicago park buildings. Designed with steeply pitched hip 
roofs, an off-center tower with a modified bellcast roof, open-air verandas sheltered behind 
brick and wood arcades, upper walls detailed with brick and half-timbering, and a variety of 
gables, dormers, balconettes, and window openings, the Fieldhouse in its overall form, roof 
profile and detailing resembles the popular image of a large Central or Eastern European 
meeting hall, country inn or hunting lodge. Although no written documentation has been found 
verifying his intent, Zimmerman may have designed the Fieldhouse in such an eclectic manner to 
create a familiar architectural image for the Polish immigrant families that comprised the majority 
of its intended users. 

The main Fieldhouse entrance, slightly recessed within a shallow-arched opening, opens off 
Blackhawk and is situated under the off-center tower. A brick-lined outer vestibule leads to an 
inner lobby with simple varnished wood moldings and scored plaster wainscoting imitating tile. 
Simple wrought-iron ceiling lights with translucent globes light the lobby. Three sets of wood 
double doors on the east side of the lobby lead to the auditorium, while double doors to one of 
the building's two gymnasiums, located in the west wing and originally for men, open off the 
south wall. (A second entrance, also off Blackhawk, provides access to the original women 's 
gymnasium, housed in the building's east wing.) 

The most dramatic interior space, the auditorium, occupies the central portion of the 
Fieldhouse. A rectangular flat-floored room with a barrel- vaulted ceiling, the auditorium is 
lighted with wrought-iron chandeliers. Natural light enters through south-facing lunette windows 
and north- facing dormers. The barrel vault is defined by raised ribs with flat "strapwork" 
ornament that resembles simplified Sullivanesque ornament. Similar ornament defines a molding 
course between the lower walls and the base of the vault, as well as a round-arched balcony 
that swells gently outward on the west wall above the lobby doors. Sets of double doors open 
onto sheltered verandas facing Blackhawk Street and the building's courtyard. 

A round-arched proscenium dominates the east wall of the auditorium, opposite the lobby 
doors, and is embellished with an encircling mural with allegorical Classical-style figures. The 
unnamed mural was designed by artist James J. Gilbert and painted in 1 920 with the assistance 
of students from The School of The Art Institute. 

The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse was the largest fieldhouse in the West Park system at the time of 
its opening in 1 9 1 4. It offered both indoor and outdoor recreation, including swimming, 
gymnastics, various kinds of ball games, and a children's playground. The sunken playing field 


Each elevation of the Pulsaki Park Fieldhouse uses a common "vocabulary" of warm- 
colored brown brick, brown-painted wood, and gray limestone, but combines them in 
different yet compatible patterns, contributing to the building's picturesque, eclectic 
appearance. Top: The east (Noble St.) facade. Above: The west (Cleaver St.) elevation 


Top: The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse auditorium is grandly 
scaled with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and a round 
proscenium arch. Above: Cultural programs such as 
concerts, dances and plays (including one seen in an 
undated photograph) have been held in the auditorium 
since its constuction. Right: Interweaving "strapwork" 
ornament decorates the auditorium's walls and ceiling. 


II ■ ■L-ili I ' 

. i. i3fc pi ill ii Iii.Ii I nil. .i.« 

The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse historically has housed a variety of activities for neighborhod 
residents. Top: The Pulaski Park band, seen in a 1921 photograph, was the first organized 
in a Chicago park. Above: Children studying in the second-floor library, a branch of the 
Chicago Public Library. 


was flooded in the winter to permit ice skating. The first park band in the City was organized at 
Pulaski Park in 1 92 1 . The auditorium housed dances, plays, lectures, and concerts, while the 
second-floor library room, originally a branch of the Chicago Public Library, provided books 
and quiet space for study. Meeting rooms provided space for a wide range of activities, includ- 
ing lessons in English, knitting, sewing, food conservation, gardening, and craftwork. In 1936, 
for example, the Fieldhouse hosted gymnastics, badminton, weight lifting, sewing classes, model 
airplane and metal crafts programs, a drama program, music classes, and pre-school groups. 

The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse has been recognized for its architectural quality over time. The 
Fieldhouse has been individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was 
included in the AIA Guide to Chicago. In addition, the Fieldhouse was identified as significant 
in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey as one of less than 200 "red"-rated buildings consid- 
ered to have great significance to Chicago architectural history. 

Architect William Carbys Zimmerman 

William Carbys Zimmerman (1859-1932), the architect of the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, was 
born in Thiensville, Wisconsin. He attended school in Milwaukee and studied architecture at the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology before coming to Chicago around 1 880. He became the 
junior partner to Chicago architect John J. Flanders in 1 886, and the pair developed a reputa- 
tion for houses designed in a variety of historic architectural styles, including the Gustavus Swift 
House at 4848 S. Ellis Ave. (built 1 898) in the Kenwood Chicago Landmark District. 

Zimmerman opened his own practice in 1 898, taking offices in Steinway Hall at 64 E. Van 
Buren St., a piano showroom-office building famous among architectural historians as housing 
such progressive architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Dwight Perkins, Pond and Pond, and 
Robert Spencer. Zimmerman continued to specialize in residential architecture, designing 
houses in the Kenwood District such as the C. A. Goodyear House at 4340 S. Greenwood 
Ave. (built 1902). He also designed several houses in Chicago's North Side Edgewater and 
Rogers Park neighborhoods, including the Albert Wheeler house at 956 W. Sheridan Rd. (built 
1 909, now owned by Loyola University), which the architect designed for the chief engineer of 
the Chicago Tunnel Company, which built the freight tunnels under Chicago's Loop. 

In 1 905, Zimmerman was appointed Illinois State Architect. During his eight-year tenure, he 
designed a number of prominent state-owned buildings for universities, hospitals and other 
agencies, including additions to the Natural History Building on the University of Illinois campus 
in Urbana, Pemberton Hall and Gymnasium at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, and 
buildings for state hospitals in Kankakee and Peoria. 

Thanks to connections made through his state position, Zimmerman became architect to the 
West Park Commission in 1907. With its picturesque European appearance, the Pulaski Park 
Fieldhouse is both an outstanding building replete with fine detailing and unusual in the context of 
the architect's other West Parks work. Jensen favored buildings that meshed with his Prairie- 
style landscapes, which featured informal settings of native American trees, shrubs, and flowers, 


Above right: William Carbys Zimmerman, the 
architect of the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, early on 
was known for high-style houses, some designed 
with partner John J. Flanders. Above left: The 
Gustavus Swift House at 4848 S. Ellis Ave. in the 
Kenwood Chicago Landmark District, was 
designed with Flanders in 1898 for the meat- 
packing baron. Left: The Albert Wheeler House 
at 956 W. Sheridan Rd., was built by Zimmerman 
in 1909 for the chief engineer of the Chicago 
Tunnel Company, which built the freight tunnels 
running beneath Loop streets. Below: Between 
1905 and 1913, Zimmerman was Illinois State 
Architect, designing buildings for a number of 
state institutions, including Pemberton Hall at the 
Eastern Illinois University campus in Charleston. 


Zimmerman's most important contribu 
tions to Chicago architecture were 
buildings commissioned by the West 
Park Commission. Between 1907 and 
1914 he designed eight fieldhouses 
and other buildings for the rapidly 
expanding West Side park system. 
Top: The Holstein Park Fieldhouse 
(1912) on W. Shakespeare Ave. in the 
Bucktown neighborhood. Right: The 
Eckhart Park Fieldhouse (1907) on W. 
Chicago Ave. west of the Kennedy 
Expressway. Bottom: The Humboldt 
Park Natatorium (1914) on W. Augusta 






—^fc'T" 5 " 


JH ^F^^ 

■ H 





^^^^^^^^^^^^^na^ ia 


and he encouraged Zimmerman to design in the then avant-garde Prairie style, based on the 
progressive, non-historic architectural style practiced by several Chicago architects, most 
notably Frank Lloyd Wright. Most of Zimmerman's fieldhouses and other buildings for West 
Side parks were designed in the Prairie style, including those for Dvorak, Eckhart, Holstein, and 
Humboldt Parks. These buildings combined the Arts-and-Crafts love of ornament that was 
derived from the colors and textures of materials (in this case, brickwork) with the horizontal 
proportions of the Prairie School. This emphasis on visual "truth" and simplicity, coupled with 
innovative uses as year-round centers of park activities, made Zimmerman's fieldhouses impor- 
tant examples of the role that architecture played in the hopes and plans of Chicago's reform- 
minded citizens of the early twentieth century. 

Criteria for Designation 

According to the Municipal Code of Chicago (Sect. 2-120-620 and -630), the Commission on 
Chicago Landmarks has the authority to make a preliminary recommendation of landmark 
designation for a building, structure, object, or district if the Commission determines it meets 
two or more of the stated "criteria for landmark designation," as well as possesses a significant 
degree of its historic design integrity. 

The following should be considered by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in determining 
whether to recommend that the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse be designated as a Chicago Landmark. 

Criterion 1: Critical Part of the City's History 

Its value as an example of the architectural, cultural, economic, historic, social, or other 
aspect of the heritage of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois or the United States. 

• The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse exemplifies the importance of Chicago 's neighborhood 
parks, built in working-class neighborhoods for the city's large immigrant population, to 
the city's heritage. 

• The Fieldhouse reflects changing cultural attitudes towards the role of parks in Chicago 
in the early twentieth century, from pastoral settings devoted to passive recreation to 
landscapes more intensively programmed with recreational and social uses accommo- 
dated by fieldhouses. 

Criterion 4: Important Architecture 

Its exemplification of an architectural type or style distinguished by innovation, rarity, 
uniqueness, or overall quality of design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship. 

• The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is a significant example of a neighborhood fieldhouse, a 

building type significant in the history of park design and one for which Chicago design- 
ers were innovators. 


The Fieldhouse was designed in an picturesque architectural style, reminiscent of 
Central and Eastern European public halls or inns, that is rare and unusual in the context 
of Chicago architectural history. 

The Fieldhouse exhibits excellent design and craftsmanship in detailing, including a 
profusion of half-timbering, sheltered verandas, dramatic gables, balconettes, jerkinhead 
dormers, and a bellcast-roofed tower, and materials, including brick, wood, stone, and 

The Fieldhouse has significant interior spaces including its first-floor auditorium, de- 
signed with a fine barrel- vaulted ceiling, round-arched proscenium decorated with a 
Classical-style mural, and low-relief geometric ornament. 

Pulaski Park also has a cast-concrete and wrought-iron fence, considered one of the 
best and most significant remaining historic fences in the Chicago Park Distirct. 

Criterion 5: Important Architect 

Its identification as the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder whose indi- 
vidual work is significant in the history or development of the City of Chicago, the State 
of Illinois, or the United States. 

• The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is the work of William Carbys Zimmerman, an architect 
significant in the history of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. 

• Zimmerman, both working alone and in partnership with John J. Flanders, designed 
high-quality and distinguished houses in Chicago neighborhoods such as Kenwood and 

• Zimmerman was the Illinois State Architect between 1905 and 1913, designing signifi- 
cant buildings for the state's universities and public hospitals. 

• Zimmerman also was the West Parks Commission's architect, beginning in 1 907, during 
a time of growth when the Commission, led by landscape architect Jens Jensen, was 
creating innovative neighborhood parks and renovating its large parks with Prairie-style 
landscapes and buildings, including eight extant buildings designed by Zimmerman. 

Integrity Criteria 

The integrity of the proposed landmark must be preserved in light of its location, design, 
setting, materials, workmanship and ability to express its historic community, architec- 
tural or aesthetic interest or value. 

The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse possesses excellent physical integrity, displaying through its siting, 
scale and overall design, its historic relationship to the surrounding West Town neighborhood. It 



The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is rich in 
picturesque detailing, including brick- 
and-wood half-timbering, small balco- 
nies, a variety of gables, and a copper- 
roofed tower. 


Pulaski Park is enclosed with its original 
cast-concrete and wrought-iron fence, seen 
in a photograph taken soon after the 
Fieldhouse's construction (top) and in 
January 2003 (bottom). Right: A detail of 
the fence. 


retains a strong sense of historic visual character through historic materials and detailing. 

Changes to the Fieldhouse that have occurred over time include the installation of a handicap 
ramp at the building's main entrance and woven- wire screening on the verandas. In addition, 
the buiding's original tile roof was replaced in 1947 by asphalt shingles and skylights above the 
two gymnasiums have also been removed. Interior changes include linoleum flooring and a 
built-in desk in the first-floor lobby. 

Significant Historical 

and Architectural Features 

Whenever a building, structure, object, or district is under consideration for landmark designa- 
tion, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is required to identify the "significant historical and 
architectural features" of the property. This is done to enable the owners and the public to 
understand which elements are considered most important to preserve the historical and archi- 
tectural character of the proposed landmark. 

Based on its preliminary evaluation of the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, the Commission staff 
recommends that the significant features be identified as: 

• all exterior elevations, including rooflines, of the Fieldhouse; 

• the first-floor auditorium of the Fieldhouse, including its original light fixtures and mural; and 

• the first-floor outer vestibule and lobby leading to the auditorium; and 

• Pulaski Park's original cast-concrete and wrought-iron fence. 

Selected Bibliography 

Block, Jean F. Hyde Park Houses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1 978. 

A Breath of Fresh Air: Chicago s Neighborhood Parks of the Progressive Reform Era, 

1900-1925. Chicago: Chicago Public Library Special Collections and the Chicago Park 

District, 1989. 
Chicago Park District, Special Collections. Photographs, annual and miscellaneous reports, and 

WPA drawings. 
Davis, Eric Emmett. DwightHeald Perkins: Social Consciousness and Prairie School 

Architecture. Chicago: Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 1 989. 
Graf, John. Chicago s Parks. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2000. 
Gray, Mary Lackritz. A Guide to Chicago's Murals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 

Lilien, Marya, and Malgorzata Pyrek-Ejsmont. "Polish Churches along the Kennedy Express 

way," Chicago History, vol. IX, no. 1 (Spring 1980), pp. 18-29. 
Local Community Fact Book, Chicago Metropolitan Area. Chicago: Chicago Fact Book 

Consortium, 1984. 
Marquis, A. N., ed. TheBookofChicagoans. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Co., 1911. 


Mayer, Harold M., and Richard C. Wade. Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis. Chicago: 

University of Chicago Press, 1969. 
Prairie in the City: Naturalism in Chicago's Parks, 1870-1940. Chicago: Chicago Histori 

cal Society in cooperation with the Chicago Park District and the Morton Arboretum, 

Sniderman, Julia, and William Tippens. 'The Historic Resources of the Chicago Park District," 

National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form, 1989. 
Urbas, Andrea. "Pulaski Park and Fieldhouse." National Register of Historic Places nomina 

tionform, 1981. 
Vinci, John, and Stephen Christy. Inventory and Evaluation of the Historic Parks in the 

City of Chicago. Chicago: Chicago Park District, Department of Planning, 1981 -82. 
"W. C. Zimmerman, former Illinois architect, dies," Chicago Tribune, April 11, 1932, p. 23. 
West Chicago Park Commissioners. Annual Reports. 1912-1936. 
Withey, Henry F., and Elsie Rathburn Withey. Biographical Dictionary of American Archi 

tects (Deceased). Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, 1970. 
WPA. Historical Register of the Twenty-Two Superceded Park Districts in the City of 

Chicago. 1941. 

The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse retains excellent physical integrity, occupying its historic site 
and retaining its overall historic form and detailing. Top: A photograph of the Fieldhouse 
soon after its completion in 1914. Above: The Fieldhouse in January 2003. 


city of chicago 

Richard M. Daley, Mayor 

Department of Planning and Development 

Alicia Mazur Berg, Commissioner 

Brian Goeken, Deputy Commissioner for Landmarks 

Project Staff 

Terry Tatum, research, writing, photography, and layout 
Brian Goeken, editing 

Many thanks to Julia Bachrach of the Chicago Park District and Tracey Sculle of the Illinois 
Historic Preservation Agency for their assistance in the research and preparation of this report. 


Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division: pp. 3, 6 (top left), 10 (top left), 
13, 14 (top, bottom right), 17 (top right), 21, 22 (middle & bottom), 24 (bottom). 

From Chicago and its Makers: p. 5 (top). 

Chicago Historical Society, Prints & Photographs Collection: p. 5 (middle). 

Fromv4 City in a Garden: p. 5 (bottom). 

From Graf, Chicago s Parks: p. 6 (top right, bottom). 

From Mayer and Wade, Chicago .'Growth of A Metropolis: p. 9 (top). 

Chicago Park District, Special Collections: pp. 9 (bottom), 10 (top right & bottom), 11,14 
(bottom left), 15, 22 (top), 24 (top). 

From Block, Hyde Park Houses: p. 1 7 (top left). 

Illinois Historic Preservation Agency : p. 17 (bottom). 

Chicago Historic Resources Survey: pp. 17 (middle), 1 8. 

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks, whose nine members are appointed by the 
Mayor, was established in 1968 by city ordinance. It is responsible for recommending to the 
City Council that individual buildings, sites, objects, or entire districts be designated as 
Chicago Landmarks, which protects them by law. The Commission is staffed by the Chicago 
Department of Planning and Development, 33 N. LaSalle St., Room 1600, Chicago, IL 
60602; (312-744-3200) phone; (312-744-2958) TTY; (312-744-9140) fax; web site, 
www. city of Chicago, org/landmarks 

This Preliminary Summary of Information is subject to possible revision and amendment 
during the designation proceedings. Only language contained within the City Council's 
final landmark designation ordinance should be regarded as final. 



David Mosena, Chairman 

Larry W. Parkman, Vice Chairman 

John W. Baird, Secretary 

Alicia MazurBerg 

Lisa Willis-Brown 

Phyllis Ellin 

Michelle R. Obama 

Seymour Persky 

Ben Weese 

The Commission is staffed by the 

Chicago Department of Planning and Development 

33 N. LaSsalle Street, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60602 

3 12-744-3200; 744-2958 (TTY) 

Printed February 2003; revised May 2003